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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

240        HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

by reason of the general indifference with regard to education.
This was most marked in those countries in which either Catholi-
cism or Protestantism had gained indisputable ascendancy.
There, the humanistic schools, even when decadent, enjoyed a
pre-eminence which was never seriously challenged, till Europe
was once more shaken to its foundations by the French Revolution.

It was rather different in countries like England, France and
Germany, which the Reformation had left in a conditions of un-
stable equilibrium. In. their case, the conservative forces which
always favour the established order were strong enough to prevent
any very considerable change, and the grammar schools con-
trived to hold their ground as they had done elsewhere. But
there were never lacking critics to point out their shortcomings
and to insist on the need for a different kind of education from
what they gave ; and some of them, following in the footsteps of
the Sixteenth Century pioneers, attempted to show by practical
experiment or theoretical plan the way to a better system. It
cannot be said that these efforts had any great measure of success ;
and yet the views of the critics and reformers must not be lightly
dismissed as the speculations of unpractical men, for these views,
though for the most part barren in their own day, had in them
the promise and potency of the great educational movements
of the following centuries.

First, there must be considered the quest for a new method of
education in German lands, and more particularly the remarkable
work done in this quest by John Amos Cornenius, the last and the
greatest of the Protestant educators. From Germany, as it
sinks back into weakness and obscurity after an epoch-making
century, we pass to France, now rapidly rising to take the place
of Italy as the leader of European culture. There we see the
ferment of new ideas about education still active. As yet, however,
there is no great achievement either in practice or in theory,
except in the education of the courtly gentleman, the galant
homme, in which Paris sets the fashion for the world. From
France, finally, we have to turn to England, where a century of
vigorous educational life culminates in John Locke, and stops
short just at the critical moment when French and English
thought are about to unite with startling and unexpected results
ill the age of the Enlightenment.